My Childhood Was a Lie and Dreidel Can Actually Be Fun to Play

My Childhood Was a Lie and Dreidel Can Actually Be Fun to Play

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Lisa Freedman
Dec 12, 2017
(Image credit: jorgeantonio/Getty Images)

Growing up, we played a lot of dreidel in my house during Hanukkah, which is only surprising when you learn what we used as the pot: pennies. Pennies are not a great prize! If you're lucky enough to spin a Gimel (meaning "gantz" or "everything" and awarding you with the entire pot), you're still only winning, what, 30 cents? Sorry, but even to a 7-year-old that's not all that exciting.

Only when recently talking to my Jewish friends did I realize that kids got to play with other options in the pot. You can play with food! Did you know that? I'm guessing you did and that only my parents did not. (Or they did know but they didn't want my grubby fingers touching their favorite candies?) With 35 years of lost dreidel fun behind me, I have spent a lot of time this week thinking about what I could have been winning this whole time.

Here's a totally definitive list.

The Best Foods to Play Dreidel With (in Order from Most to Least Awesome)

  1. Mini marshmallows
  2. Reese's Pieces
  3. Chocolate chips
  4. Peanut M&Ms
  5. M&Ms
  6. Skittles
  7. Starbursts
  8. Pieces of gum
  9. Peanuts
  10. Pretzels

A Quick Refresher on the Rules

  1. Each player (there is no limit to the number of players) gets about 10 to 15 game pieces (ideally edible; see rant above!). At the beginning of each round, every participant puts one game piece into the center pot. Also, every time the pot is empty or has only one game piece left, each player adds one more piece.
  2. Take turns spinning the dreidel. Depending on the side it lands on, you give or get game pieces from the pot. Nun means the player does nothing. Gimel means you take the whole pot. Hey gets you half, and Shin, you put one piece in.
  3. If you run out of pieces, you are either out of the game or can ask to borrow from another player.
  4. Whoever wins all the pieces wins the game.

What do you guys use as the pot when you play dreidel? Do you agree with my list?

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